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Stockholm, May 28, 2024 — The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly decries the Georgian parliament’s Tuesday decision to overturn a veto by the country’s president and adopt a Russian-style “foreign agents” law that would target media outlets and press freedom groups.

“The ruling Georgian Dream party’s decision to push through Kremlin-inspired ‘foreign agents’ legislation despite opposition from Georgia’s president, tens of thousands of protesters, and the country’s international partners makes it clear that the party wants to ensure its victory in October parliamentary elections by using the law to smear and suppress critical voices,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Georgian authorities should immediately revoke this bill, which is utterly incompatible with Georgia’s bid to join the European Union and threatens to push the country into Russia’s authoritarian orbit.”  

On Tuesday, Georgia’s parliament voted to override President Salome Zourabichvili’s May 18 veto of the draft law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence.” Zourabichvili has five days to sign the law; if she declines, parliament’s speaker, a vocal proponent of the bill, is expected to sign it into effect.

Reintroduced by the Georgia Dream party in April following widespread protests that led to its withdrawal last year, the law would require nonprofits and media outlets receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “organizations pursuing the interests of a foreign power” and submit detailed annual financial accounts. Authorities would be granted as-yet unspecified powers to monitor their activities.

Organizations that fail to register or provide required data would be subject to fines of 25,000 lari (US$9,500) and monthly fines of 20,000 lari ($7,500) for continued non-compliance.

The law text was amended in May to allow individuals to also be liable for such fines, rendering them effective immediately rather than following an appeal.

The European Union has repeatedly warned that the law may compromise Georgia’s EU aspirations.

On May 21, the Venice Commission, a legal advisory body to the Council of Europe, called on Georgian authorities to repeal the law, saying it “has the objective effect of risking the stigmatising, silencing and eventually elimination of associations and media which receive even a low part of their funds from abroad.”

On May 23, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a policy of visa restrictions on individuals “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia” in connection with the foreign agent law, including those responsible for a “campaign of violence or intimidation” to suppress criticism of the bill.

Dozens of journalists were harassed, threatened, and attacked while covering protests of the proposed law.

Source of original article: Europe & Central Asia Archives – Committee to Protect Journalists (
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